This is India’s first adult audiobook and SMS novel—introductions that will daunt the average bookworm. Especially if you, like me, run scared of FM Radio. Deaf Heaven reads very like FM when it begins—cacophonous, logorrheic, ubiquitous—and then suddenly, before you know it, you’re listening, listening. In one grand rant the book screams out the grief that dare not speak its name—the lie that is India.
Of late there have been plenty of non-novels about the state of the subcontinent. Tightly-knit, impermeable narratives of general rot that never quite leap the synapse between the page and the reader’s brain. They are, like the India they portray, coarse and thoughtless, their slattern prose curiously immune to editorial rebuke. These are colonial narratives, pages from today’s gazetteer—inventorying and categorising for containment and control, this mad circus for which the non-Indian reader will eagerly shed forex. Sure, they win big prizes and make great movies, but as novels they’re non-starters. They fail to colonise the brain, because they burn out after shouting “we are like that only”. If they are larval forms of the evolving genre of Indic, then Deaf Heaven makes it to butterfly.